As a start-up or entrepreneur, finding investment can be a complex process. Your business needs to stand out above the rest, and hold its own in a highly competitive market. This is where branding comes in. Think of Apple for a moment. Arguably one of the most famous brands in the world, their products now range from phones and tablets to apps and credit cards. These are the products of Apple but not the brand. Their brand is the perception built around these products. It is the crisp white box that a new iMac comes in. It is the feeling of quality that customers get from holding an iPhone. It is the ability to put the letter ‘i’ in front of any product and make it sound more expensive. In all, a brand is an accumulated feeling and personality that is highly associated with a product, service or organisation, it is not just a logo.
Telling A Story :
Brand Values: Brand values are the defining characteristics of a company. By staying close to the heart of your brand, not only employees feel united, so will your audience.
Tone of Voice : Once brand values are established, communicating them across all areas of the company is essential. Consistency is key. Once brand values are established, a tone of voice can be used to refine how to should portray them. Some aspects will be fairly binary choices; formal/informal, simple/technical etc. Other aspects will require more nuanced thinking, for example ‘humorous’ could mean an element of sarcasm, or witticisms, or just a long list of puns. Once this is well defined, it needs to be upheld across emails, pitch decks, and social media.
Brand Story : The brand story encompasses your purpose, mission and vision. 90% of this work goes unnoticed by the public eye, but the knock on effect of it is impossible to ignore. People relate to stories, so give your audience something to connect with.
Purpose, Mission & Vision: Why was your company created in the first place? How will your company succeed? What will your company be in the future? Where are you headed? These are all great questions to ask yourself as you go through the motions of defining your brand. White Bear has us consider a hypothetical smoothie brand and the questions they should ask themselves. Why did I start this vegan smoothie company in the first place? I love smoothies but felt guilty that all my favourites rely on dairy products. How do I sell these vegan smoothies? I’m going to promote a vegan smoothie as an alternative to other smoothie brands, not just as an eco-friendly option but as a better tasting product. What will I do with my smoothie brand when I make enough money to move out of my mum’s house? Run a smoothie themed adventure park complete with a ‘mixed berry’ waterslide and unlimited smoothies.”
Proposition : “This is more than a tagline or slogan. This gets to the very heart of what the brand stands for.” Your proposition should outline the benefits of your brand to the consumer. Be emotive and concise. Be memorable. A great example White Bear references is Apple’s “Think different”. Not only does it encompass brand values (innovation), tone of voice (to the point), it also applies to each of the purpose, mission and vision.
Visualising The Brand :
Brand Name : It’s worth checking your competition to avoid redundancy and it never hurts to get a trademark lawyer involved.
Logo, Colour Palette & Typography: Your logo is quite often the first thing a customer sees. This is where you can turn your tone of voice and brand values into a tangible asset.
Choosing your colour palette is also important: Different colours bring out different emotions in your audience. But at the same time, using an unexpected colour may be enough to differentiate you from your competition. With that being said, fonts will identify a brand when the logo isn’t around. They should be kept simple, and be given thoughtful consideration by a designer.
Pitch Decks : Everything we just talked about above need to come together in your pitch deck. White Bear also points out that in the early stages of landing investment, investors may not be expecting branding. So, all the more reason to blow them out of the water.
A Note On Social Media : Investors will check out your social media presence too. They want real world evidence of your brand being desirable.
Growing The Business: It doesn’t stop at investment. Once the first round or two of investment is raised, it’s time to grow. Focusing on branding early on will save you time and money in the long run. To stand the test of time, make sure you are ticking these three boxes:
Ownability: Ownable assets unique to the company like logo, name, typography, packaging, and marketing campaigns. The more ownable you are, the more likely you will be noticed by consumers and investors. You want your product to stand out on the shelf and for smaller businesses, if you can’t out spend the competition, you need to out smart them.
Memorability: If you’re memorable, your customers will have greater brand loyalty, increasing valuation. It’s important that you value returning customers as much as you do new ones. No matter how groundbreaking the idea, it’s no good if the product is never recognized in store or online.
Scalability : Think back to your vision. In a time of rapid progress, It’s incredibly important to future proof your brand. It’s extremely important to consider wider applications of your product early on in the branding process. If this means leaving things a bit more ambiguous, that’s okay. This will give you and your investor flexibility while still being ahead of the game.
A rebrand costs equity as well as customers. So be careful not to fall into the trap of creating your quick brand now and redoing it later down the line. Despite what you may see across the web, branding isn’t just about the feels. There’s science behind it. There are journal articles written about it. They teach it in universities. It’s kind of a big deal.
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